Value vintage: He said …

Rod Phillips (Photo: Julie Oliver)

Wine is like any other commodity or service when it comes to value: You get value when the price you pay gives you something that’s worth more.

That doesn’t always mean buying cheap wine. An $8 wine that tastes like a $15 bottle is good value, but so is a $20 wine that is so good, you’d expect to pay $30.

There are so many good- to great-value wines available at reasonable prices in the LCBO that it’s a pity not to take advantage of them.

How do you find good value wine? There are no hard-and-fast rules, but if you are looking for less expensive prices, it’s not a bad idea to start in the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish sections of the LCBO. All three countries manage to put winners on our shelves for $10 or less, like these two:

Montalto Nero d’Avola/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($8.95, 621151)

Made in Sicily from a blend of an indigenous variety and cabernet sauvignon, this is not only full of flavour, but delivers more complexity and character than you’d expect.

Quartetto Red 2008 ($8.30, 253880)

Despite the name, there are only three grape varieties in this blend, but it overachieves in flavours (rich and solid) and style (tangy and juicy).

That’s not to say that other regions can’t compete at the lower end of the price scale. This one is a perennial favourite:

Cono Sur Viognier 2010 ($9.95, 64287)

Not a lot more expensive and demonstrating that there are great values to be found in the French section, is:

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2009 ($16.95, Vintages Essential 259721)

It has concentrated flavours, but it’s light on its feet and is impressively elegant.

Finally, with the holidays coming up, you might look for value-priced sparkling wines. Many give quality approaching much more expensive styles such as champagne and they include a number from Ontario. This is consistently terrific and punches well above its price:

Henry of Pelham ‘Cuvée Catharine’ Rosé Brut Sparkling Wine ($29.95, 217505)

Made from the varieties that dominate champagne (Chardonnay and pinot noir), it’s produced using the same method. It has great flavour, a vibrant texture and it’s a great choice for turkey dinners or when you feel like enjoying yourself.

Ottawa Wine & Food Festival

What: Five-day festival with meals, cooking demos, seminars and a tasting floor featuring foods, beer, spirits and 1,500 types of wine from around the world.

When: Main event runs Nov. 9 to Nov. 11 at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Admission: Daypasses are $22 on Friday, $32 Saturday and $18 Sunday. Sampling tickets are 50 cents each (wine tastings require two to 36 tickets each). Some other events extra. Many events and even admission tickets for Saturday sell out in advance. You can buy them now on the website.

Off-site events

Wednesday, Nov. 7: Pop-up meal with Montreal chef Martin Picard.

Thursday, Nov. 8: Meet the winning winemakers of Wine Access magazine’s annual awards.

Sunday, Nov. 11: Field trip to area farms.

Info: or 613-523-6386.

Rod Phillips writes a weekly wine column for the Citizen. He recently released the 2013 edition of his book, The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO, ($19.95, Whitecape Books). Follow him on Twitter at @rodphillipswine

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